Monday, February 04, 2013

Will the next Democrat hopefuls do an Obama?

Having completed analysis of the use of the Internet by Obama in 2008 and 2012, and compared his community building and interactivity to his rivals, in a chapter that will be published in the Sage Handbook of US Political Marketing we speculated whether this was an Obama model of campaigning, a Democrat candidate model, or a new model for campaigning that everyone would eventually lock on to.  The launch of the Hillary Clinton campaign, by the Ready for Hillary Political Action Committee suggests the answer is that it was an Obama thing. 
Drawing on a number of theories for Internet use and campaigning we proposed four functions for websites, social media platforms and the various tools and spaces that a campaign might utilize. They are informing, mobilizing  harvesting data and interacting. 

Of course it is early days for team Hillary, but as the screenshot shows it seems priority number one is harvesting email addresses, through a sign-up mechanism that is the totality of the Ready for Hillary website, and data from the Facebook group which already has over 32,000 members - that is a lot of data already about the lives of those who do (and so also data on those who might be convinced to) support the Hillary campaign. However, the imagery is Hillary beckoning the visitor in. Is it a sign that this will become a community? Will Hillary develop an interactive campaign? Research suggests that female representatives are far more likely to be conversationalists and interactive than their male counterparts. Or will this indicate that the next contest will be back to a more Web 1.5 approach (between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0), looking interactive but really all about persuading?

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Any candidate who has seen what has happened in Italy will know that a grass roots online strategy is not only attractive but essential in consolidating their position. We are seeing more and more mavericks like Beppe Grillo and indeed Obama, in his heydey, break onto the scene to cause an upset.

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